15 September 2020

Situation in Darfur Volatile as Attacks on Civilians Increase, Chair of 1591 Committee Tells Security Council

Sudan’s representative once again urged the Security Council, during a videoconference meeting on 15 September, to lift the sanctions that it imposed on Khartoum over the conflict in Darfur, as the 15-member organ took up the latest report of its Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005).

The representative of Estonia, acting in his capacity as Chair of the Committee, briefed Council members on the 90-day report in the wake of a peace agreement signed in Juba on 31 August between the transitional government of Sudan and an alliance of armed movements to end fighting in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

At the outset, he congratulated Sudan on reaching a historic peace agreement, commended the commitment of the transitional authorities in Khartoum to prioritize peace and urged parties that have not yet joined the peace agreement to do so urgently.  “We hope that this peace deal will pave the way to sustainable peace for all people in Sudan,” he said.

Highlighting elements of the Committee’s report, which covers the period from 9 June to 14 September, he said that the security environment in Darfur has been volatile and has deteriorated in several areas.  Bolstered with new gold mining revenues, the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) had increased its capability in Jebel Marra by recruiting new fighters and purchasing weapons, though the movement is divided by internal infighting.

Meanwhile, intercommunal clashes and related attacks on civilians have increased since May, especially in West and South Darfur, he said, adding that attacks on civilians have increased, in particular on internally displaced persons and farmers trying to return to their land.  He acknowledged Khartoum’s willingness to respond to the security incidents, and the need for the necessary capacity-building to be provided in order to address this issue.

He went on to say that the Panel of Experts on the Sudan, which supports the Committee’s work, also reported that most Darfurian armed movements remain in Libya, where they participated in large numbers in military clashes in 2020, including in Tripoli and Sirte.  Those groups grew significantly over the last six months, engaging in large-scale recruitment and obtaining new equipment, he stated.

Regarding the implementation of sanctions, he said that, according to the Panel of Experts, parties in Sudan have continued to transfer arms and other military material into Darfur in violation of the arms embargo.  “Porous borders and easy availability of small arms in Darfur and the region meant that illicit flows of weapons in and out of Darfur continued, and posed a threat to security and stability both in Darfur and neighbouring countries,” he said, adding that the implementation of the travel ban and assets freeze also remains a challenge.

He concluded by saying that, as of 31 August, the Committee is considering a proposal from a Member State for the delisting of four individuals from the sanctions list.  He went on to emphasize that the sanctions regime was set up for the sole purpose of bringing sustainable peace to Darfur, and not to punish Sudan.

Sudan’s representative said there have been major developments since his last statement to the Council in June, including the 31 August peace deal to end 17 years of conflict.  That agreement covers a range of key issues, including security arrangements, land ownership and the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons.  It also provides for the disarming of combatants and their integration into the national army or civilian life.  He also noted a meeting earlier in September between the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), during which the two sides agreed to set up negotiating workshops to address outstanding issues.

Emphasizing that Khartoum will continue the quest for sustainable, inclusive and lasting peace, he called upon the Council to react positively to recent developments by lifting the sanctions regime contained in resolution 1591 (2005).  “Those measures have become irrelevant, counterproductive, outdated and overtaken by developments,” he said.  Noting his Government’s request for the delisting of four individuals from the sanctions regime, he said that Sudan expects nothing less than to be treated with fairness by the Council.

He explained that, when some unfortunate intercommunal incidents occurred a few months ago, the Government took robust measures, including the deployment of law enforcement officers, the confiscation of weapons and the implementation of conflict‑resolution measures.  Noting that SLA-AW is not a party to the 31 August agreement, he appealed to the Council member State in which Abdul Wahid resides to join the quest for peace and mitigate the suffering of people in and around Jebel Mara.  He concluded by commending the Chair of the 1591 Committee for saying that sanctions were not intended to punish Sudan.

For information media. Not an official record.